The faith community has long had a vital interest in the education of our youth. Early in our country’s history, education of children was often centered in the Church. Many, if not most, of our private colleges and universities were originally started by some form of Church.
It is the responsibility of the faith community to offer a constant challenge to our society to live out our shared values. I am both embarrassed and saddened that I feel compelled, by our faith values, to proclaim that we in Colorado are living out neither our value of the importance of our children nor the value of their education.
Colorado is 40th among states in per pupil funding, 42nd in pupil to teacher ratio, 41st in technology for our class rooms. As of 2007, we were $1397 below the national per pupil funding average — that is below the AVERAGE. These figures are all related to K-12 education. We are 48th among states in support of higher education.
Does this accurately reflect our values as Coloradans of faith? Is this how we value our children’s futures? Does this reality make you embarrassed or sad — or BOTH?
So, what can we do about it?
A coalition called Great Futures Colorado, of which the Colorado Council of Churches is a part, has submitted a proposal called DECIDE to the state legislature. We are asking the legislature to place a ballot initiative on the November ballot to allow all of us as Coloradans to express our values around the education of our children.
If approved by the voters, DECIDE would give the legislature the authority to increase revenues to prevent more cuts to education and to invest wisely in preschool, K-12 and higher education. New revenues could be used for school improvement, smaller class sizes, school safety, technology, high-quality teaching, early childhood education, career technical education, and more.
If the legislature votes to place DECIDE on the ballot and it is passed by voters, Colorado would do no more than stand with 49 other states where legislators have the tools to invest in education, and are held accountable to voters through reelection.
Is this a partisan issue?
Education is not a partisan issue. We know that investing in the next generation is both a moral imperative and an economic issue — not a partisan issue.
The time has long passed when we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend there are not dire consequences to our budget decisions.
We at the Colorado Council of Churches and Great Futures Colorado believe our children’s education and therefore their futures is not a partisan issue. It is, at its core, a moral issue of faith.
The Colorado Council of Churches
African American Episcopal, American Baptist Churches, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal, Church of the Brethren, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran church in America, Metropolitan Community Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist Association.